Staff Editorial: Are graduation ceremony dress code regulations taken too far?

By the Charger Editorial Board

   Whether it’s the ever-ambiguous dress code or the unforgiving late arrival policy, students at Carroll are used to following meticulously created and mercilessly enforced rules. Our handbooks are our bibles of legal jargon, serving to guide our lives in the cement block institution we call home. We sit through PowerPoint presentations displaying pictures of “inappropriate” attire, pulling down our skirts and wondering which fashion trend will be outlawed this year. We force ourselves to complete seven classes worth of homework each night. We rise every morning before the sun has made its appearance in the dark blue sky. And we tolerate it for one thing, the one reason we are here: graduation.

   Graduation is the fruit of our labors. So it’s nothing less than disappointing when we’re handed yet another overbearing list of rules for our graduation ceremony.

   Every senior in the class of 2016 was mailed a sheet of paper describing the graduation dress code. Included in the rules (bolded and underlined): “ladies” may not wear pants.

   That’s right, even today female students are barred from making their own decisions about what they will wear on one of the most important days of their lives. They are forced to wear dresses or skirts, whether they feel comfortable in them or not.

   For the school to enforce such an antiquated, sexist rule is insulting to the students who have worked so hard for their diplomas. The administration needs to realize that the “no pants” rule is more than a formality. The idea that the rule will allow the student body look more uniform on the graduation stage is not enough to justify putting aesthetics before the comfort of students.

   The rule has negative effects for girls who are uncomfortable in dresses, but beyond that it also has the potential to exclude transgender students. The distinction between the male/female dress code requires students to classify themselves as either male or female. Transgender guys who are in transition or who have not come out to their families yet may be uncomfortable wearing a dress. In addition, they face the threat of being forbidden to walk at graduation—the very thing that they have worked toward for four years—if they “present” as a female but are wearing pants.

   Furthermore, if Carroll is going to inforce such a blatantly sexist rule as the “no pants” rule, they need to make sure that students know about it with more than just a sheet of paper mailed to their parents. If the consequence of being forbidden to walk is strictly enforced, the punishment for wearing pants is too extreme to treat it as a passing regulation.

  The dress code is obviously outdated and needs to be revised for the good of the student body. Female students should be able to wear what makes them comfortable on a day as special as graduation. It’s time for the administration to keep up with the times, as it’s likely that the rule was imposed without a thought to the negative consequences that it could have on transgender students. There is no reason to create a separate dress code for male and female students. A better way the dress code could have been written would have been to say that professional attire is required, not that “ladies” have to wear a dress to walk or they will be stopped at the gate. It’s time we treated boys and girls the same way.